Symbols of Spatial Representation across Languages: From English Phrasal Verbs to Hindi Complex Predicates

Authors: Pursotam Kumar, Sanjukta Ghosh (Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University), India)
Speaker: Pursotam Kumar
Strand: Language and Spatiotemporal Frames
Session Type: General Session


“Languages vary in encoding the spatial information around them (Levinson 2004, Levinson and Wilkins 2006). One of the grammatical categories by which we represent spatial movement is a verb. Phrasal Verbs of English consist of a verb and a particle like put out, put in etc. They are highly polysemous in nature and often create a problem for the learners of English. One of the many senses a phrasal verb often exhibits is spatial or motion related and it is expressed through the particle it uses. For example, one sense of the verb take out is move out or cause to leave as in (1).

The teacher took the children out of the classroom. (source: WordNet)
This motion predicate has a sense of displacement from one position to another and is represented in Hindi by a complex predicate le jaanaa literally take go, which has a combination of two verbs.

Such Complex predicates of Verb-Verb, Noun-Verb, Adjective-Verb or even adverb-verb combinations are typical constructions in South Asian languages across language families. This paper attempts to explain how the spatial sense of the particles in English phrasal verbs is represented in Hindi through complex predicates.

For this study, we collected some selected phrasal verbs of English with the particle ‘out’ as their second element and found their translation equivalents in Hindi. Phrasal verbs with the particle out have been studied before for their highly polysemous nature. (Fan Li et al 2020, He and L. J. 2005). Five phrasal verbs which have more than 10 WordNet senses and high in frequency in BNC corpus with ‘out’ have been considered for the study. We conclude that what the spatial information the phrasal verbs encode in English are done by complex predicates in Hindi.”

Keywords: Spatial information, Shrasal verbs, Complex predicates, English, Hindi.